Humanity, Life matters

Bereshith 4:6-16 The Punishment of Kayin (commentary)

According to the Bible a soul is a living being, something that by the breath of God came to life. The oxygen of life is provided by the blood. Therefore is said

Genesis 4:10 NHEBJE Jehovah said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries to me from the ground.

In the Hebrew  is the word “blood” in the plural form. Rashi says that this plural form refers to Abel and his potential seed. The plural also shows intensity.

Cain fleeing before Jehovah’s Curse, by Fernand-Anne Piestre Cormon, c. 1880

With Adam’s disobedience the ground was cursed. Now a man came cursed from the ground. It is significant that Cain, being a farmer, could no longer use this as his occupation and got banished into the desert to become a vagrant or fugitive and a wanderer. These two similar sounding terms (BDB 631, KB 681 and BDB 626, KB 678, cf. Gen_4:14) describe Kayin’s (or Cain’s) nomadic life. They are word plays on the land of Nod (BDB 627 II). These word plays show the literary shaping of these early chapters.

Here  we also notice something that still happens today by many. When people do something wrong they often do not consider what they have done, but are more worried about the consequences of their act.

Genesis 4:13 NHEBJE Cain said to Jehovah, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.”

Being driven from the face of the ground is the occupational result of Cain’s sin while the next phrase

“from Thy face I will be hidden”

is the spiritual result (cf. Gen 3:8) of Cain’s sin.

Cain feared for his own life. The rabbis say that he was afraid of the animals. However, the context seems to imply that his own relatives, who would be “go’els” (blood avenger) for Abel, would kill him. This would imply that Adam and Eve had many unnamed children.
There is a very interesting discussion of Adam and Eve’s relationship to other pre-historic humanoids in Kidner’s The Tyndale Commentary on Genesis and Bernard Ramm’s discussion of anthropology in The Christian’s View of Science and Scripture. This verse implies many other rational creatures.

In this chapter we come to hear about a “sevenfold”

Genesis 4:15 NHEBJE Jehovah said to him, “Therefore whoever slays Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.” Jehovah appointed a sign for Cain, lest any finding him should strike him.

This means complete vengeance (BDB 988). Apparently God left Cain alive as an even more poignant sign of sin. The rabbis say that God will take vengeance on him in seven generations which would be Lamech. There is a rabbinical legend that Gen 4:23 refers to Lamech and his son, Tubal-Cain, killing Cain by accident.

There being “appointed a sign for Cain” was either a sign (BDB 16, “a mark”) of (1) God’s mercy amidst judgment or (2) God’s sustaining His judgment through time. The rabbis say that God put an animal horn in the midst of Cain’s head. However, it seems more probable that it was a mark on the forehead (cf. Eze 9:4; Eze 9:6).

Ezekiel 9:4 IAV And YY said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Yerushalayim, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.

Ezekiel 9:6 IAV Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.



Bereshith 4:1-7 Eve’s discouragement over the curse of many children and trying to please God

Bereshith 4:6-16 The Punishment of Kayin


Bereshith 4:17-24 The offspring of Kayn


Additional reading

  1. Cain and Abel in the Bible
  2. Cain his killing, marrying and death
  3. First mention of a solution against death 7 Human sacrifice
  4. For a discussion of humanoids and their dates of occupation of the ancient Near East see R. K. Harrison’s Introduction to the Old Testament, pp. 147-163 and Who was Adam? by Fazale Rana and Hugh Ross.

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